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DIY Dodge Diesel Truck Camper: One Man’s Story

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This is a DIY Dodge Diesel truck camper.

Paul built this camper 42 years ago and still uses it today, swapping it from truck to truck. Read his story below!

Please enjoy, learn more, and re-share below. Thank you!

DIY Dodge Diesel Truck Camper: One Man’s Story


Images © Paul Larsen

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Images © Paul Larsen

This is my small camper I made 42 years ago.

How time flies! Basically it is a topper that is bolted to the top of a standard eight foot truck box. I built it for my first truck, a 1969 Dodge that I bought for $1100 in 1974. It has served me well for solo camping all these years. If I would add up all the nights I have spent in it, I would give my best approximation to be two years! ….

The only thing I had to buy was the siding and windows. The rest of the material was salvaged from construction site scrap piles, or mooched of my Dad. The 12V lights and switches inside came from a 1954 Dodge car….

In the fall of 1974 I got a good job in the electrical industry. In 1976 , I decided to buy a new 1976 Dodge Truck. The camper migrated over to the new truck with minor modifications. At this time I decided to add heat.

I used a standard in car heater, controlled by a 120 VAC thermostat. My freezing days are over!! ( Well as long as I get a campsite with power).
I think it was around this time I added a second 12V battery so I did not have to worry about running the main battery down. Also I made the bed permanently in the down position. No more folding stuff !!!

In 2008 , my 1976 Dodge decided it was time to go to the big Parking Lot in the Sky. So my wife and I decide to go truck shopping…A 2004 Dodge Diesel was at an out of town dealer and that was the truck we ended up getting.

Of course the camper migrated over to the 2004 with some major modifications, but it made it!! The panes for the box walls would not fit, but I found that pieces of carpet, salvaged of course, worked just as well. A bit of painting and repairs to the inside and all ready to go for some more years!!

My cooking has always been done outside, with a 2 burner propane stove using a refillable propane tank. My little cupboard holds my utensils and pots and pans. Of course the cupboard is made of salvaged material as well.

I look forward to many more nice relaxing trips in this unit. Yes my wife lets me go out on my own!!


  • Walls and roof framed with 2 x 2 Lumber, with the odd 2 x 4 thrown in for extra strength.
  • Sheathing: 3/8 plywood, covered with standard aluminum RV siding.
  • Standard RV windows.
  • Insulated with R7 fibreglass insulation.
  • 1/8 panelling to finishing.
  • Insulated side panels for the truck box.
  • Camper floor is 3/8 plywood sheet with carpet.
  • Bench with storage
  • Counter with storage
  • Bed with storage
  • Homemade cooler

Our big thanks to Paul for sharing!

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Marsha Cowan
    October 13, 2016, 2:17 pm

    Cool! Looks like a lot of room to get around inside. Great job!

    • Natalie
      October 14, 2016, 7:12 am

      I thought it was clever! — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Melissa
    October 14, 2016, 3:06 am

    Oh wow! What I wouldn’t give to have his talent! Very impressed! Before reading his story, I knew instantly that the “chuck box” was perfectly crafted by the same talented person. Kudos!

    October 14, 2016, 7:23 am

    Another one of those truck turned into camper! Great idea!

  • Ray
    October 14, 2016, 10:51 am

    At age 50 ,I am having to start over in life. Some great ideas! As being in the construction field all my life as well as turning wrenches ? I have some great ideas combined .thank’s for the other intuitive idea’s! I now know exactly what I am going to do ! I know for a fact that a diesel, is the way to go. A diesel has less maintenance. Better mileage . A diesel does not have the headaches of plug’s, wires,rotor cap,and all that expense! Diesel’s to me are easier to work on and maintain !

    October 14, 2016, 7:08 pm

    Not even going to waste my time with this one…

  • Paul Larsen
    February 28, 2021, 7:28 pm

    I really should update this post, since these picture were taken I modified the cupboards at the front of the camper. I also painted the inside of the camper white and added a small fold down shelf for my DVD player .

  • Rick Lockhart
    August 3, 2021, 12:30 pm

    My question is where did you get the stair system on the tailgate?? Its exactly what we have been looking for on our truck top camper build. Thanks Rick

    • Paul Larsen
      August 4, 2021, 8:03 pm

      Hi Rick . I was able to order it through a local RV dealership parts department . Bucars RV close to Calgary Alberta Canada. It was a few years ago so forget the exact details. It fold up quite nicely for storage when travelling. I have seen similar stairs on other campers . My friend Bigfoot Camper has similar stairs. Hope this helps

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